The Year In Beer 2012: Tasmania

December 28, 2012, by Crafty Pint
The Year In Beer 2012: Tasmania

As anyone who’s spent time in the bars and pubs of Hobart, in the company of the state’s band of brewers of attended any of the many festivals with craft beer either at their heart or with a prominent supporting role, the beer scene is in pretty rude health in Tasmania. While the burgeoning local whisky and cider industries might have grabbed more attention, the Tasmanian International Beer Fest is attracting growing numbers of visitors from the mainland, the state’s breweries continue to plough their own unique furrows and Hobart is awash with venues stocking a good range of craft beer, with the likes of Jack Greene and the Westend Pumphouse high quality newcomers in the past year.

So, as 2012 draws to a close, here’s the year in beer through the eyes of a couple of the local scene’s leading lights.

Willie Simpson, co-owner of Seven Sheds and Australia’s foremost beer writer.

Willie pours beers at his cellar door in Railton


So, 2012: how was it for you?
Generally, very positive. Our cellar door visitors grew by around 10 percent in 2012, as did our production and overall sales. Significantly, our online sales picked up noticeably over the past six months. Although we don’t do any active marketing, our wholesale bottle outlets grew and our tap outlets doubled, including new hotel outlets in Queenstown, Launceston, Hobart and Melbourne.

Any personal highlights, both in terms of beers and happenings?
Bass Strait IPA sparked widespread interest beyond our expectations. We had inquiries from as far afield as Germany, the UK and North America. Launched in August – traditionally one of the slowest months for our cellar-door – it led to a 35 per cent increase in visitors. The 420-odd bottles sold out in mid-October but visitors are still asking about it.

Good Beer Week in Melbourne was a lot of fun and the Tassie micro showcase at the Courthouse Hotel, North Melbourne, led to them currently having our Razzamatazz on tap. We entered the AIBA for the first time, our three entries all won medals and Seven Sheds was short-listed for the Best New Exhibitor Trophy.

The change to beer excise rebate was a welcome windfall for Seven Sheds, meaning we can grow beyond the 30,000 litre threshold this financial year and claim the maximum $30,000 refund which we can reinvest in the business.

How do you feel the Australian craft beer industry is travelling?
There has been a huge growth spurt both in number of players and the production volume of several longer-term craft breweries. I suspect there will be some rationalisation in future as wider economic factors take effect. Overall, the industry is in good shape but it is a tough, highly-competitive industry. Passion and love are all very well, but craft breweries need a sound business plan to succeed.

With the likes of Little Creatures falling into Lion’s hands, I suspect the definition of “craft beer” will become increasingly blurred.

What do you hope to see in 2013?
More craft breweries embracing online and direct sales, rather than accepting narrow margins from our supermarket-dominated bottleshop chains. Some common sense on penalties rates which cruel small businesses in regional areas, who need to employ casual and part-time staff over weekends public holidays, which are usually the busiest days for our cellar-door.

Mark and Felicity Montgomery, owners of the Weldborough Hotel

The beautiful Weldborough Hotel in NE Tasmania


So, 2012: how was it for you?
We have been blown away by the interest in craft beers and the increase in customer knowledge and discernment.

We are closing in on the end of an amazing year – a year in which Tasmanian craft beer brewers and our customers all got behind us. We are deeply appreciative of their support and enthusiasm.

Any personal highlights, both in terms of beers and happenings?
We have increased our range of craft beers on tap (currently six) and continue to stock and sell brews from every microbrewery in Tasmania. Visitor numbers are up.

We are finding more and more making Weldborough Hotel a destination of choice and we continue to surprise on the upside.

How do you feel the Australian craft beer industry is travelling?
From the perspective of a publican that specialises in selling Tasmanian craft beers we have noticed a marked increase in the interest of the craft beer scene in general in 2012. Our customers tend to be more knowledgeable and discerning than they were and we are optimistic that this trend will continue.

What do you hope to see in 2013?
Our hope for 2013 is more of the same: great craft beers and appreciative customers. What more could we wish for?

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